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Massachusetts: Information & Fun Facts

Posted By misterno     Apr 13    

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Even though Massachusetts is relatively small, the eastern and western sections have climactic differences. The whole state goes through cold winters and warm summers although the Berkshires in the west experiences the most chilling winters and cool summers.


Flora and Fauna

The Massachusetts uplands are covered in pine, oak, marsh, beech, birch, larch, and hemlock. Commonly found shrubs include mountain laurel, shadbush, and Rhodora. Many different kinds of beautiful ferns grow wildly around the state. Common wildflowers include lily, orchids, goldenrod, Maryland meadow beauty, and aster among others.

There are around 76 kinds of mammals found in Massachusetts, 74 of which are considered to be native. The most prevalent common mammals in the state are the bobcat, white-tailed deer, striped skunk, river otter, fisher, ermine, gray fox, black bear, beaver, porcupine, and squirrels. There are also 336 resident bird varieties including the herring gull, horned and screech owls, blue jay, and song sparrow. Cape Cod is home to an abundance of shellfish including mussels, oysters, clams, and shrimps.


Population

Massachusetts is the most populous state of New England. Since colonial times, the population has grown steadily. But since the 1800’s, the state’s growth rate was slower than the rest of the country. One of the reasons behind this is the birthrate below the country average and a large migration which occurred from 1970 to 1983, which resulted in the biggest reduction in population among all states in New England. The estimated population of Massachusetts today is at 6,794,422.


Ethnic Groups

Massachusetts went through early industrialization, which made it a melting pot for many of Europe’s migrants especially the Irish. A majority of the population identified with at least one ancestry group by as late as the 1990’s. During the 2000’s,  the largest ethnic group was the Irish, followed by Italians, English, French, Polish, and Portuguese. The Greater Boston area has a small Chinatown and many Chinese live in the suburbs. Other Asian ethnic groups present in Massachusetts include the Vietnamese,  Cambodians, Koreans, and Japanese.


Religions

Protestants have contributed greatly to the development of Massachusetts although more than half of the population are Roman Catholics. The presence of Roman Catholics in the state has had a significant effect on the state’s policies and politics. Pilgrims and Puritans arrived in the 1600’s and established the Massachusetts Bay Company back in 1629. These religious groups arrived in order to escape the harassment they were facing from the Church of England. The early communities then were founded on strict religious principles and it was forbidden to practice other kinds of religions.
Most of the Roman Catholics arrived in the state during the 1840’s at the same time the Irish arrived in Boston. During the 1850’s they migrated to other towns and later on became the backbone of the industrial workforce. Later on, Italians, Eastern European Jews, and German Catholics arrived which in turn made the state turn into a melting pot of nationalities and religions.


Economy

It was estimated by the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis that the gross state product of Massachusetts in 2013 was at $446 billion. In 2012, the per capita income was at $53,221 which was then the third highest in all of the United States. There are 13 Fortune 500 companies that are located in Massachusetts, the biggest of which is the MassMutual  Financial Services and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. In 2014, Massachusetts made the CNBC list of the top states to do business.

The industries that are crucial to the growth of Massachusetts’ economy includes information technology, biotechnology, higher education, healthcare, tourism, finance, and defense. Greater Boston and the Route 128 corridor are major areas for venture capital investment. Recently, tourism has grown to play an even more important role in the development of the state’s economy thanks to the increasing popularity of Cape Cod and Boston as tourist destinations. Other popular destinations include Plymouth, Salem, and the Berkshires.


Education

Among all states in North America, Massachusetts was the first to require that municipalities have appointed a teacher, or establish a grammar school, due to the passage of the Massachusetts Education Law in 1647. Massachusetts is also home to the oldest school in North America, which is the Roxbury Latin School, established in 1645. There are 121 centers of higher education found in the state, two of which consistently rank among the world’s best: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Other top-ranking schools include  Boston College, Tufts University, Boston University, and Northeastern University.


Arts and Culture

Massachusetts has Native American as well as Yankee roots, which has contributed to the diverse and unique local culture. Massachusetts has produced some of the most prolific artists, writers, and musicians of America. Many significant historical and artistic events are held in the state each year, all of which celebrate local heritage. Massachusetts is also important for the performing arts industry. Numerous famous orchestras are found here, including the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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